By Andrew Nsoseka
The Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, CHRDA, on May 18, 2022, organised a one-day workshop that brought together health workers, counsellors and media practitioners to be schooled on better ways through which violence against women and girls can be ended through social change.
Talking about the workshop, Dr Violet Yigha Fokum, Executive Director of CHRDA stated that the workshop was part of a three-year project, which is in its second year. She said the project aimed at reducing and ending violence against women and girls. The project has been influenced by a new methodology for change called the SASA (Start, Awareness, Support, Action) methodology, adopted by CHRDA, she said.
Addressing the participants at the workshop, Dr Violet Fokum said emphasis in the project is on power balance in homes and communities, and as such, focus should be on how power is used and how it can be better managed to bring cohesion and reduce violence against women and girls.
“Unlike other violence against women projects, we adopted an innovative methodology for change, known as the SASA methodology and it focuses on how we can work on the root causes of violence against women and girls, which is power imbalance,” she said.
“How do we balance power to ensure that there is a reduction in violence against women and girls? Here, focus is on how we use power, whether you are the head of the household, whether you are a wife or child, a counsellor, a traditional ruler, etc, how do you use that power that you have to relate with others? She asked.
She said, unlike other methods used to address the issue of violence against women and girls, the SASA method does not seek to lay blames on persons or groups, so that it brings on board every actor to contribute positively. “It helps us to project the benefits of doing things differently and when you see the benefits you can now see the necessity for change,” she said.
Discussions and presentations at the workshop centred on how the various participants, especially health workers and counsellors, can make survivors of violence against women and girls feel comfortable enough to seek needed help or services.
Health workers and counsellors were schooled on the need to stay professional, cautious and friendly to survivors of violence against women girls, and other related cases, so that trust can be built and many encouraged to seek essential psychological or medical care they need.
They were equally urged to be ethical and, among other principles, ensure that they follow the do no harm rule, maintain confidentiality and put the survivor’s interest first.
Dr Violet Fokum said, at the end of the project, which is implemented in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon, they want to achieve a balance of power and that a coalition of stakeholders will be formed to ensure that there is a reduction in cases of violence against women and girls. She said each training session is inclusive and includes both women and men, to ensure that all parties are on board.